I eagerly waited to learn what my greatest gift was, that special something which would grab the attention of future teachers, choreographers, company directors and huge audiences too.
"And, Emerald..." she began, having saved my compliment for last.
I stood a little taller. A smile pulled at the corners of my mouth.
"Emerald, you...are consistent."
Consistent? My smile fell.
"You just keep on going." She sounded like the announcer in an Energizer battery commercial. Then she walked back to the record player to ready for our next combination.
Consistent? I thought to myself again. Where is the glamour in that? Who will ever watch me dancing and say, "Wow! Look at that girl! She sure is consistent!" I wanted to be a ballerina more than any one else in the room. More than the dancers with beautiful, high leg extensions, and feet so gorgeously arched they nearly folded in half. More than the dancers who could pirouette as easily as breathing, while I panicked a little every time I tried to do a double turn.
Was I the only one who didn't have any special talent at all? I pictured myself as a hopeless child, getting a pat on the head and a participation award, while everyone around me received a satin ribbon or medal.
That night I went to bed sad and discouraged. Over the next several days, the lingering disappointment weighed me down, but I still attended daily ballet classes. If "consistent" was all I had, then I'd just have to be the best at that.
And I was.
Ten years later, one of my classmates had gone on to run a successful studio of her own, but I alone, was still performing. Getting paid as a professional, in fact. Far more talented dancers than I had given up for one reason or another after high school. One girl, a close friend of mine with a beautiful body for dance, had said, "Ballet is just too hard."
I learned through my years of performing, and subsequent years of training other young dancers, that being consistent may not be a sparkly talent, but it is a necessary one. All the sparkly gifts in the world won't matter if you don't put in the never-ending hours of labor.
Now a writer for the past several years, I'm reliving the experience of not being the most talented, brilliant, witty, or creative author on the scene. And as with dancing, I may receive my share of setbacks and emotional beatings, but I will continue all the same. Because consistence will get me where I want to go, eventually. And that's a whole world better than never getting there at all.